Tips to Make Your Garden Ready for Winter

tips to winterize your garden

The warm summer is almost over and days of worrying about the drought are gone.  Fall and winter, however, are seasons during which your plants are at their most vulnerable. In order to make sure that your garden remains healthy during the cold months, you’re going to need to prepare your garden. Here are some tips on how to prepare your yard for the fall.  Be sure to check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

Cover Crops

Hairy vetch and cereal rye are excellent cover crops.  They are a type of plant species that will keep the soil microbes alive and active during cold winters. This will further boost your garden at planting time, which can bring a ton of ease for the next spring.  Cover crops are also great at adding organic material to the soil, in addition to helping your garden during the fall and winter.  Remember to gently rake the crop seeds into the soil surface, in order to avoid disturbing the standing crops.

Harvest and Preserve

Fall is the perfect time to harvest your storage crops, such as carrots, potatoes and onions and properly cure and put them away for winter. Make sure not to overlook plants such as broccoli side shoots, herbs, and sunflowers.  Herbs are particularly easy to dry and freeze, so even a small garden can create a winter-long supply.

Soil PH

Vegetables like acidic soil, so keep this in mind when checking for PH. Yes, dealing with chemistry stuff such as soil acidity does seem somewhat nerdy, but it plays a vital role in in ensuring the success of your crops the next spring.  A PH kit or electronic tester can be found easily in most plant nurseries.  If your local nursery doesn’t have it, you can always opt for online shopping. Of course, if you don’t like dealing with chemistry, you can look for a company that specializes in gardening services–although you will need to cough up some extra cash.  Nothing beats calling the experts, especially if your garden means a great deal to you.

Compost and Manure

Fall is a perfect time for adding sources of organic matter, such as compost and manure to the garden. Adding 1 to 2 inches of soil supplements will ensure that your garden is resupplied with enough nutrients for your plants to weather the cold months. The only thing you need to keep an eye on when adding compost, manure, or any other similar material are weed seeds.  Weeds multiply easily and are somewhat adaptable.  So even traces of weed seeds can ruin your entire spring. The best way to go is by checking with your supplier!

Pro Tip

It smells, makes you cry, but it’s a brilliant addition to many meals. Garlic is the perfect crop to plant in the fall. Once the temperatures have dropped significantly, yet before the ground freezes, plant garlic.  Plant individual cloves, 3 inches deep, spaced 6 to 8 inches between each other.  Add a couple of inches of mulch to the bed. Each clove will become a full head by next summer – talk about an investment!

Making sure that your garden is fall-ready comes down to preparation and experience.  Applying cover crops, compost and manure, harvesting on time and checking for soil acidity are key factors in keeping your garden healthy.  Do this and your garden will thank you once the winter passes!

About the Author: Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls simply in love with interior design and DIY projects. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

 

How to Prepare Your Soil for Next Year’s Garden

garden soil preparation

 

The growing season may be coming to an end, but your job as a gardener is far from over. It’s time to prepare for next year’s crops, literally starting from the ground up. We are all aware that a plant’s success begins with the quality of the soil in which it is planted. Follow these self-sustaining methods to ensure a healthier garden next year and check out our other backyard vegetable gardening tips.  

Tidy Things Up

Clear out dying plant, pesky weeds, and other debris. Uproot vegetables to rid the soil of lingering insects that might be nesting in them. Often times they will lay their eggs in the vines on the surface. If left to rot, the eggs can easily survive through winter and cause issues upon hatching in spring. For composting, it’s okay to save some plants and twigs as long as you’re confident they aren’t hosting any diseases. They make great additions to your compost heap and pass on nutrients to future crops. 

Consider Planting a Cover Crop

If you’re like most gardeners, you might long for fresh dirt under your fingernails and a spade in hand. Instead of daydreaming about the first buds of spring, why not create your own hardy winter garden? Be sure to choose plants that root themselves deeply such as Crimson Clover or Winter Rye. Once spring arrives, it’s important to cut these plants short and incorporate them into the soil to halt growth. Allow approximately three weeks for your winter garden to decompose before planting new crops.  

Add Plenty of Nutrients

Whether your soil will be vacant for the time being or not, it still requires a bit of care. Look to your compost heap, or even freshly fallen leaves, for all your soil prepping needs. Be sure to dig deep when mixing compost into raised beds for optimal decomposing. Don’t have any compost? No need to fret! Head over to your local supermarket or hardware store to purchase natural fertilizers and/or manure. If you’re in a time crunch consider ordering online from reputable sources, like Nature Safe, for your garden needs. Top off your soil with store-bought mulch or make your own with shredded dry leaves.  

By following these steps, you’re well on your way to starting next year’s garden on the right foot. Begin these projects immediately after your final harvest for the best results. Thank yourself for it later when you’re reaping the benefits in spring.

About the writer: Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2

Gardening Accessories You’ll Need This Fall

 

gardening, fall gardening, gardening

 

Die-hard gardeners know that a good pair of galoshes can turn a rainy day into a productive one. However, do not overlook any of the following gardening accessories that can make your yard work easier too. These accessories will come in handy whether you’re harvesting, weeding, planting or cleaning up this fall. We have a few tips below, but check out our other backyard vegetable gardening tips too:

 Knee Protection
If you suffer with knee pain and standard strap-on knee pads make you uncomfortable and sweaty, try a garden kneeler wave pad instead. This foam-constructed pad not only cushions your knees, but protects them from sharp and rough elements as well.  When you’re not gardening, use it around the house while cleaning.
Tool Organizers
When working in the yard, a garden caddy can keep you from stretching and reaching for tools that you use as you go. Plus, it saves time because you won’t have to try to find tools that were placed in the soil in between use. When it is time to tidy up the yard at the end of the season, don’t overlook the importance of a tool storage rack to keep everything in place until the growing season begins again. That way you won’t have to look for everything in the spring. Some racks even come with casters to allow for easy mobility. Make sure the rack you use has a grid bottom. This allows for air circulation and reduces the probability of rusty tools.
A Gardening Apron with Pockets
Even if dirt on your clothes doesn’t bother you or you use a bucket caddy for tools, a gardening apron with pockets comes in handy. The storage pouches work well for harvesting vegetables or fruit, leaving your hands free for other tasks. Additionally, you’ll save time on doing laundry by protecting your clothing, even if you wear separate gardening apparel.
Adjustable Hoes
Whether you use scuffle, draw, push or chopping hoes, your body will benefit from the adjustable kind. Longer hoes cause less back pain, but don’t work too well with raised beds. Adjustable hoes provide the best of both worlds. Plus, every family member can regulate the length of each for their comfort.
Fall is the ideal time to pick up gardening accessories. That’s when many Central Farm and Garden stores have end-of-season sales. Even stores in zones with longer growing seasons lower prices during the cooler months to make room for new inventory. Not only are these accessories beneficial in the fall, they will all benefit garden endeavors during the rest of the year as well.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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